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Why Use British Whites

Rolling Hills Traeger Ranch British Whites

British White Society Standards

FAQ's about British Whites

True Stories about our British Whites

Grading Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links:

BWCAA - www.britishwhite.org

Photo Gallery - www.britishwhitecattlebreeders.com/slideshow/rollinghills/index.html

 

   

 

The British White Breed


Since formation in 1987, the British White Cattle Association of America has continued to be the official registry of British White Beef Cattle in the United States. The British White Cattle Association remains very active today and has never consolidated, merged or united with any other association or entity. The British White Cattle Association is governed by a nine member Board of Directors elected by and from the active members of the association. As an active member you have the opportunity to participate in a variety of livestock events & industry meetings as well as record your British White Beef Animals in the official registry at reduced rates.

Some authors suggest British White Cattle were brought to the United Kingdom by the Romans about 55 B.C.There is further evidence that British White Cattle were in the United Kingdom in pre-Roman times; perhaps as early as 4000 B.C.

One of the oldest herds of British White Cattle was the Sommerford herd. It was owned by Sir Walter Shakerly in Cheshire and established in 1725. It was dispersed in 1925 only five years after the breeds first herd book was published, but never the less, Somerford Bulls or their Sons were used in all except two of the herds listed in the first volumes of the book and featured very widely in the Woodbastwick and Fugate herds. The Woodbastwick herd owned by John Cator is now the oldest British White Cattle herd.In 1940, the British Government ordered the shipment of a group of these cattle to America to safeguard a precious national heritage if the United Kingdom was invaded. This was the only breed to be safe guarded in this manner. Many public building and historical points of interest are maintained and supported by government finances. Is there any reason that equal recognition should not be given to a breed of cattle, such as the British White?

WHY USE BRITISH WHITES?

The value of British White Bulls as sires of beef cattle, are worthy of note by livestock farmers. This provides the strongest Commercial reason for use of British White Bulls on commercial cows; cows will calve easier, calves have higher feed conversion and efficiency and leaner carcasses as now demanded by the American housewife. In his book, THE ANCIENT WHITE CATTLE OF BRITAIN, G. Kenneth Whitehead states that the carcasses were described in 1790 by Thomas Bewick as; "They have little or no Fat within, but it is interlarded with the flesh".

Does this sound like what we are trying to do today? Raise cattle with no more than 1/4" backfat but still have marbling. This breed was doing it over 200 years ago, British White Cattle hold their own against all other British breeds.

Large breeds may have higher daily gains and weaning weights, but in some cases the disadvantages are more drastic. They may be too big to fit THE BOX if fed to weights to grade. The benefits of speedy growth is of no value unless a live calf is reared. Difficult calving has a marked influence on calf mortality and fertility. This problem is noted in several large breeds. The higher growth rate of crossbred calves sired by large bulls can be more than canceled out by the superior survival rate and lower maintenance requirements of the British White calf.

The breed of the dam also affects the incidence of hard calving. The crucial fact is the relationship of pelvic size and body size. One critical factor is stump rear legs or straight hocks. Straight hocks in any cow of any breed tend to be accompanied by a square level rump with a pelvic opening of reduced size. A cow with a sloping pelvic girdle and low pin bones is less likely to experience calving problems.

There is considerable circumstantial evidence to credits of the British White Cattle with resistance to certain diseases. British White Bulls on test in England showed resistance and were free from pneumonia. Use British White Bulls and breed more disease resistance into your calves. British White Cattle adjust very well to different and extreme climates.

When Bull Testing Stations were first introduced, bulls were first ranked according to their daily weight gains while on test. In its self this was an inefficient method of evaluation. It took little account of compensatory growth(an unexpected spurt of growth in an animal which has been gaining weight slowly). Even more seriously, it gave no consideration to the efficiency of feed conversion or production of lean meat. The obsession with growth rate resulted in various undesirable side effects which the most important are; increases of the coincidence of calving difficulties and much higher calf mortality. Defects accompany the use of breeds which are becoming popular with the publicity given to higher growth and gain rates. Comparative trials carried out by New Zealand Department of Lands and Survey confirm that had this not been used as the basis of selection these problems could have been solved.

The 400 day weight of British White Bulls is 52.3 % of mature weight, in some other breeds this is more like 50.0 %. This is a positive indication of efficiency.

British Whites have a breed average of grading choice/prime 92 % of the time, and with typical yield grades 0-2.

 

OUR HERD:

In my experience, we have had feeders grading Choice/ Prime above the breed average every year. We have had carcass' dressing up around 72% of the live weight. Most are in the upper 60's. In our cross bred cattle we have seen the best of what British Whites have to offer, and we feel it's profit for you to experience too!

Rolling Hills Traeger Ranch British Whites

Not sure what to look for when looking at beef cattle?

Consider these things:

Are you buying sight- unseen? or from photos only?

This is a more and more common practice. We personally frown on the practice, however we have made photo purchases with varying results.

Are you buying based on pedigree or DNA scores alone?

This is something we consider in our purchasing but it is not our only consideration. These are tools, and indicators, not necessarily what we use solely for mating.

Have you spoken to the breeder or visited their place?

I'm old school this way. I want to get to know the people I'm doing business with, see their operation, and their herd. I find everyone has great ideas of how to do things, and people's reputation is of the top things I consider before considering cattle they are selling. If the breeder seems less than honest the cattle may not be honest either.

What do the cattle look like?

Are they tall and narrow framed?

This cow is only 32% as wide as she is tall

Or are they quite wide framed?

This cow is 50% as wide as she is tall

The Black cow is 52 inches tall at the hip, and she is 17 inches wide in her frame.

The British White cow is 52 inches tall, she is 26 inches wide. She has almost 350 more pounds of red meat in her front end alone, than the black cow. The British White cow above is 11 years old in this photo. She has produced 5 breeding bulls, 3 steers, and 1 daughter so far in our herd. The Black cow has produced 2 thick made daughters and 1 steer, she skipped 1 year with no calf.

There are lots and lots of good looking side profile cows out there that are like the black cow above in all breeds and colors. There are a limited number of cows that are over 40% as wide as they are tall, and a rare few that are 50+% as wide as they are tall.

We have been graced to have over 20 cows and heifers that have crossed the 50% threshhold, and over 50 others that are 40 to 49% as wide as they are tall. The balance of the cows in our herd are 36 to 39% range. In Gerald Fry's linear scoring standards, 36% plus is tollerable in cattle. We rarely get a calf that falls below the 36% cut off any more. We simply have bred it out of our herd. We have seen the number of 40+% females growing most rapidly in the past 4 years, and in our 2009 calf crop, I believe only 1 in the first 46 born so far will be below 43%.

Is this a trait you could use in your herd?

As British Whites are noted as a dual purpous breed, it may be tollerable to have cows that lack the width that we are breeding into our herd, as we have pressed for the beef side of the breed, we have attained these results. The above British White cow is one of our foundation cows that we bought as a 5 month old heifer calf 12 years ago. She has not let us down, nor have any of her offspring. We feel that her grand-daughters are of equal calibur in our herd, and they too have now produced grand-daughters that will likely remain in our herd to build on her genetics of beefiness, docility, longevity, easy keeping, good gaining, and all of the marketing traits that make the beef end of the breed top of the line. To compliment these great scores we have DNA profiled this British White cow. Her scores complimented what we already knew. We expect this cow to remain in our herd for several more years, and we expect she'll continue to produce much desired offspring.

Rolling Hills Traeger Ranch British Whites

 

 

 

 

 

Character

 

 

Colour

 

 

Head

 

 

 

Body Conformation

 

 

 

 

Udder

 

 

Skin

British White Cattle Society Recommended Standards

Description from UK BWCS herdbook volume 59

The British White is a naturally polled, large and hardy native breed exhibiting the dual characteristics of beef and milking ability.

Must be white with black or red points, viz. Nose, muzzle, pigment round the eyes, ears, teats of cows or rudimentary teats of bulls, hooves and splash or spots of colour on the front of each fetlock. The skin showing dark pigmentation.

Free from slugs or rudimentary horns. It should be of a fair length from eyes to muzzle, which should be broad. The heads of bulls should be masculine in character and of cows, fine and feminine.

 

Animals should be functional and free moving on sound feet, with a long level top line, not rising at the root of the tail, broad and expanding over loins to hips, pin bones well apart especially in the bulls. The shoulders gently sloping and well set in, the ribs well sprung. The underline should be level. The hindquarters long from hook to pin, buttocks being well fleshed down to the hocks, which when viewed from the back, should be straight, turning neither inwards or outwards.

Level, well developed but not pendulous, the teats of moderate size, set evenly and pointing to the ground. It is important that the rudimentary teats of bulls should be wide set and developed.

Should be fine and handle well

 

Total

 

 

 

Points

 

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

50

 

 

 

5

 

100

   
 
 

FAQ’S About British Whites
These are some of the most asked questions I receive and answers:

Q. Are British Whites a new breed?
A. They are a very old breed, dating back to the days of the Viking explorers.

Q. Why are British Whites so little known?
A. Up until WWI they were owned pretty much exclusively by the royal families of England. Churchill sent 5 cows and a bull to the USA to protect the breed in the case of an invasion of England by Hitler. As England was safe, they left the cows here and they multiplied. Through the efforts of a few individuals the breed has been preserved in the USA, and thanks to the efforts of several breeders the British Whites in the USA have a good purified pool of genetics that are of equal or better beef quality to the English Fullbloods in England.

Q. How many British Whites are there?
A. There are several thousand British White females in the USA, the breed has seen exponential growth in the past 10 years and seems to not be leveling off on popularity. British Whites are becoming more popular with larger farmers and ranchers as they discover and learn about them and the obvious economic reasons to raise them.

Q. How many British White Breeders are there?
A. There are over 100 breeders that are British White Cattle Association members. And quite a few (around 700) that aren’t members.

Q. What is the average herd size?
A. Approximately 15 cows. Many breeders are raising British Whites because they like to have a few registered cows. There is a growing number of breeders that are raising them fulltime.

Q. Do the calves change color when they grow up?
A. They are the same color as they grow as when they were born.

Q. How do I market British Whites?
A. Share them with people, talk to cattlepersons about them, and anyone you come across who asks. It’s sort of like talking about a favorite car, tractor, or pet. It’s easy to share about things that are important or precious.

Q. Where do the steers go?
A. We private market them too. British Whites typically grade and yield much higher than other breeds, and our buyers usually direct market to a packer so they get the premiums instead of a broker or jockey. Some breeders finish their own steers and sell beef by the pound.

Q. What about the sale barn?
A. The sale barn owner admits they are where mostly junk cattle go. It is an excellent place to find unwanted cattle, disease problems, brokers/ jockeys. And they take a share of the profit in raising beef too. The sale barn brokers and jockeys do know what British Whites are now, as do more and more feedlots. I have had a couple feedlot owners with 10,000 capacity lots call me and ask for British Whites. I do know a few individuals that market through a sale barn and they have seen little or no difference in the price compared to other beef breeds. A few bigger breeders have gotten a hefty premium over black cattle repeatedly in their area.

Q. Where do cull cows go?
A. To the packing plant DIRECTLY. I will not sell a cow that belongs in the freezer to anyone else. Sale barns will not make a dollar off us, it’s cheaper and more fair to use the NFO! They take feeder and finished steers too!

FAQ’S About Us
Q. How did you get started?
A. We found the breed through a free ad in the local classifides 'Dairyland Peach' paper.

Q. When did you get started?
A. November 1996 we bought our first steer, and in October 1997 we bought our first 8 British Whites

Q. Do you AI?
A. Yes, we AI some of our cows. I did not have the opportunity to own some bulls I’d like to use, so we do the next best thing.

Q. Why did you choose British Whites?
A. I wanted a breed of beef that would be trouble free, and gentle. No other breed could offer those 2 natural traits without other traits I was not looking for.

Q. How many cows do you have?
A. We have over 160 breeding age registered females, and about 20 commercial British White cows.

Q. How did you get so many?
A. It took a lot of miles on the truck and trailer to get this herd together over several years. We have raised over 1/3 of our herd from our original 8 cows.

Q. Why do you have so many bulls?
A. I have a strong belief that a cow must be a quality cow before she can be a registered cow. If she truly is physically and genetically good she will produce many generations with her name on the papers. A good commercial cow will be here longer than any other cow if she consistently produces me a calf better than she is.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK US ANY QUESTIONS YOU HAVE!

True stories about our British Whites

Man’s Skepticism… We were moving our cattle to a pasture a commercial cow/calf producer owned. The farmer informed us that we should place our British Whites in the corral for at least a week before we could turn them out into the pasture so they could settle down. There was a lot of state land around the pasture and it wasn’t suitable to even ride a horse across. Very confused, I asked, “why”. I knew my cows, and I knew that he obviously had never known a beef cow to be gentle. So we took that first load to the pasture, called the owner when we got close, and he came over. He was quite adamant that we use the corral. I told him that the cows would come out of the trailer at a walk and about 15 feet from the end of the trailer, their noses would hit the ground and they’d begin grazing for about 50 feet then walk the perimeter of their new pasture, then begin to eat peacefully. He swore we were wrong, near to the point of anger. How could a young gal know more than a seasoned farmer? Well, he’d never heard of British Whites, and hadn’t seen them before either. The astonishment was evident as he picked his jaw up from between his ankles when I opened the trailer doors and the cows did exactly as I had stated. I continued to repeat the process with each load until the entire herd was in the pasture. The final load contained my 2 bulls which I placed one in the corral and the other with the cows. He returned later that day to see my bulls and by then had decided he wanted to rent a bull from me for his fall calving cows. Then I was astonished! I never sought out to be rude, but I have faith in my cattle. They simply don’t let me down.

I was able to acquire a large group of cows a year ago, and again I was reminded of the above story. The situation was that the cows were a long enough distance away that it was much more cost effective to have a pot semi move the cows for me. I phoned the trucker to check on the status of his location. I was excited beyond words for the arrival of the cows I’d only seen a few photos of. The driver had never seen a British White before either. He commented that they were very calm as they loaded into the trailer. I became more excited. I knew where many of the individuals had originated, and knew of the reputation of the herds and their docility. Late that morning, they’d finally arrived. I photographed them in the trailer as they were being backed up to the unloading chute. We opened the door and waited for them to emerge. They very quietly came up the ramp and then to the door where they gazed out at their new surroundings. I wondered what thoughts were going thru their minds. I imagined relief that they were going to be allowed to get out of the trailer after 22 hours cramped together, and curiosity of where they were. They needed some persuasion to come out, but not a stick, rattle paddle, or a shocker, but kind words of encouragement that it truly was okay. Once the lower level was empty, the driver opened the upper deck. Those cows wanted to come out, but stayed looking out the door. The driver was not brave enough to take this next step. After 5 minutes, I went up into the trailer, after being warned to not get kicked…he obviously didn’t know British Whites very well… I begun talking to the cows and asking them to turn to the door. I got them started in the right direction and had enough time to photograph the cows carefully making their way off the trailer. They didn’t run, jump, kick, hold their heads high, or anything. They did it with such grace that they appeared to have done it a hundred times. They knew they were home, and quite relieved to have all four feet on the ground again. After a meal of hay and a good drink of water they rested for the night. They had made a 789 mile journey, patiently waited for the emergency repairs to the truck, and are now happily home in their new pasture. Even there they quietly walked around, seeing and smelling the surroundings. They act as though they’ve lived here all of their lives. And they’re a welcome site to us all!

Unloading… I had an experience last spring that I’ll never forget. I brought home some bred heifers from a 350 mile trip. They rode so nicely in the trailer and when they got home they did what heifers are not predispositioned to do. They walked to the door of the trailer and looked out one at a time to their surroundings. The first one put one foot carefully to the ground, looked around, then the other front foot, again looked around, scooted forward, and stepped out after looking around a 3rd time. It wasn’t because she was afraid, she was so curious. She walked slowly into the pen and gently smelled her new mates. Each heifer that emerged from that load did the same thing. My only regret about that day was that I didn’t have a camera or video camera to tape it. It’s one of those experiences that was most appreciated by myself, as I was there to witness this to share! When we moved the same heifers to summer pasture, and again this fall to home, they again did the same thing when unloading… I appreciated that none slipped, or pushed one another as they exited the trailer.

Promoters come in many forms... We kept some of our cattle at a rented pasture in 2007, it was new to us, and a new experience for the land owners. They had previously kept dairy heifers there, but the fences in need of repair, and many other things to do, the pasture stood empty for some time. I made the contact with them in December, and when it warmed up enough we set off to repair the fences and get them ready for the cows. The land owner was excited to have us caring so much, and we appreciated their kindness and help so much! When their family and friends visited our cows were frequently visited by them, and all were warmly greeted by our nosey, friendly cows. We look forward to having cattle at their farm again in 2008, and we thank them for their warm support and promotion of our cattle!

Grading UP

The BWCAA in our effort to increase herd numbers and continue to improve the breed have a grade up program. Here's how it works:

 

If you own your own favorite cow and you breed her to a purebred to fullblood British White bull this is how your favorite cow and her offspring will work up the grade up scale:

Your cow is FC.

FC bred to Mr. PB BW= 1/2 blood registered offspring

FC's DTR bred to PB BW = 3/4 blood registered offspring

FC's Grand DTR bred to PB BW = PB with 0 generations PB ansestry or PB0

FC's Great-grand DTR bred to PB or higher BW = PB1

To continue to grade up you'll need to use a bull that is equal or higher on the PB scale to continue to grade up to American Fullblood

American Fullbloods can be produced one of 3ways:

Breeding a 4 generation PB to a 4 generation PB

or breeding a 4 gen to an AMFB

or an AMFB to an AMFB

American Fullbloods are not always the "best" cattle, it is just a level of purebred status stating the purity of the animal's breeding in our registry. One MUST use their own judgement when selecting cattle to purchase.

 

       

 

© Copyright 2007
Rolling Hills Traeger Ranch, Avon, Minnesota